Personal Injury FAQs

How are my attorney’s fees paid?

Personal injury cases are handled on a “contingent” fee basis under which the attorney’s fee is paid as a percentage of the settlement amount or jury verdict at the conclusion of your case. As established by the Florida Bar, the percentage amount is dependant upon whether the case is settled prior to or after a lawsuit is filed.

Prior to making the decision as to whether to file a lawsuit, Robert Heyman will discuss with you the relative merits of accepting the settlement amount offered by the insurance company versus filing suit and seeking additional damages at the higher contingent fee rate. While Robert Heyman will alway give you his informed opinion regarding how you should proceed, as the client, that decision will always be your to make.

What about the costs of filing a claim for damages?

Florida law permits your attorney to advance the necessary costs of proceeding with your claim for damages. At the conclusion of your case, if a settlement is reached or a jury verdict is returned in your favor, those costs are reimbursed to the attorney after the attorney’s fee has been calculated.

You should understand that prior to the filing of a lawsuit, these costs are primarily expended to obtain the medical and other records necessary to properly evaluate your case and present your claim to the insurance carrier and typically amount to a few hundred dollars.

Should the insurance company not offer you the fair value of your claim and you decide to file a lawsuit, your costs will thereafter include court filing fees, deposition and expert witness costs, and the costs of securing the attendance of witnesses at trial. These costs can range into the thousands of dollars and will be discussed with you prior to the decision to file suit. As your case progresses, Robert Heyman will advise you how to proceed and what costs may be advisable, but ultimately, the decision regarding what costs to incur will be yours to make.

What is my claim worth ?

The value of a claim is based upon a number of factors which include the following:

  • the evidence establishing liabilty of the parties involved
  • the extent of the insurance coverage maintained by the at fault party
  • the severity and permanent nature of the injuries sustained
  • past and future medical expenses
  • past and future wage losses
  • pain and suffering

How long will my case take to resolve?

This depends upon the success of the settlement negotiations. In those cases where liability is clear and the resulting damages can be easily calculated, a settlement can be obtained in a matter of a few months.

In most cases, however, it takes a number of months for the treating physicians to properly diagnose and treat the injuries sustained and thereafter determine that the client has recovered as much as can be expected, usually referred to as “maximum medical improvement”. At that point the doctors can give an estimate regarding the need and cost of future medical treatment and whether there will be any restrictions placed upon the client’s previous activities and ability to continue working.

Once this information is received, it is sent to the insurance company to evaluate, together with a demand for settlement. If the fair value of the claim is offered, the case will usually be settled within 30 days of the demand. If the insurance company does not offer a reasonable settlement amount and a lawsuit is filed, the case may take a year or longer to resolve.

Must my case go to court?

Most cases do not go to court even if a lawsuit is filed. The attorneys for both sides are able to take formal steps to learn more about the case by taking witness depositions, obtaining documents and employing expert witnesses to assist in evaluating the relative strengths and weaknesses of each side’s case.

Before a case can be scheduled for trial, the parties are required by the Court to attend a mediation conference where formal settlement discussions take place with the assistance of a court approved mediator. The vast majority of cases usually settle at the mediation conference.

If no agreement is reached at mediation, the case can then be scheduled for trial, although some cases still settle prior to an actual trial taking place. If no settlement is reached, the case will proceed to a jury trial in which both sides attempt to convince the jury that their case is supported by the greater weight, or preponderance, of the evidence.

If a lawsuit is filed, who will handle my case?

While many attorneys handle personal injury cases, there are some who never file lawsuits. If the client does not want to accept what the insurance company has offered in settlement, those attorneys refer the client to another attorney who will file the lawsuit and handle the case through its conclusion.

You should always inquire of any prospective attorney as to whether this is their practice or not. The insurance companies know which lawyers actually try cases and which ones always settle. Robert Heyman has 28 years of trial experience and represents his clients from the making of the initial demand for settlement through a jury trial , if necessary, to seek the full measure of their damages.